In some respects, Arizona's culinary scene is behind the times. But when it comes to preserving the past, our state has one very special organization that keeps us ahead of the curve. Native Seeds/SEARCH (NS/S), a Tucson-based seed bank and conservation nonprofit, has been advancing educational opportunities in agriculture for 30 years. Its Seed School is an innovative course in "all things seeds" that trains people in creating localized seed systems, and now thanks to mentions in the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle, there's growing national demand for this groundbreaking program.
Arizonans can attend Seed School at the Native Seeds/SEARCH Conservation Center in Tucson. Other regions of the country, however, have been missing out on this all-important approach, which is gaining momentum thanks to the backlash against GMO products. That's about to change next month when Seed School goes national with its first course at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. NS/S has hired a national Seed School director, so the upcoming class is just the first of many that are expected to be held across the U.S.
The Montana Seed School is a big deal for another reason too: it's the first time students will be eligible to receive college credit for the NS/S course. Registration for the Montana session has already closed with the largest number of registrants to date, but don't worry because there's plenty more to come. The second national course will be held from February 17 to 22 at Fairview Gardens in Goleta, California, and additional 2013 Seed Schools will be announced online as they develop.
From its founding in 1983, NS/S has been dedicated to conserving and expanding the unique agricultural genetic diversity of the Grater Southwest with a living seed collection of over 1,900 of native, arid lands-adapted native crops. With its Seed School leading the way, the organization and its mission are now expanding to other parts of the country, helping to preserve all-American produce and plants from coast to coast.